Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry,’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life [soul] is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).
The comments I am about to make will no doubt be considered shaky ground, at the very least. Many (or most) will probably consider what I say absurd, and completely unworkable. Nevertheless, I will submit this for your contemplation and consideration. Perhaps it will plant a seed in your thoughts which will later produce fruit.
Here in the United States of America, there is a debate going on over whether Health Care should be Universal. Some people believe that everyone should have access to the most advanced medicines, technologies, and facilities currently available; they feel in their hearts that no one should be denied medical aid, or insurance, because they can’t afford it. It is a ‘natural right’, or a right given to us by our Creator. Others deny this, though, saying that Health Care is not a ‘right’, but a ‘benefit’; essentially, we don’t ‘deserve’ anything we don’t have the wealth to buy. If we can’t afford it, then it’s just too bad for us! They will point out that our Declaration of Independence declares that all men have the right to pursue happiness, but not that happiness itself is a right. In this viewpoint, the benefit of medical care and insurance is a ‘happiness’ which we have the right to pursue, but the ‘happiness’ is not a right in itself.
To those who believe in their hearts that medical care – to the extent that medical science has currently developed – is a natural right, I say: Your hearts are in the right place. I believe you have realized what is truly valuable: humanity itself, or the human soul. The things that are seen are temporary, and therefore relatively worthless; the things that are unseen (human soul or consciousness) are abiding, and therefore of real worth (2 Corinthians 4:18). Material things are here for our enjoyment, and to help us keep the valuable human soul in its bodily home, but they have no intrinsic value, and our possession or non possession of them does not constitute our worth. Unfortunately our societies are built on the assumption that material things are valuable, and a person’s worth is based on the abundance of his/her material possessions. Values are assigned to such things as gold and silver according to their abundance or scarcity; humans are valued according to how much of these things (or their equivalents in paper money, bank accounts, etc) they possess. The right to food, clothing, shelter, and medical care depends on the value of the person in terms of the value of his possessions.
It seems to me that as long as human society continues to base its ‘economy’ on the value of material things, rather than the essential worth of the human being, we will continue to have the conflict between the ‘big government, bleeding heart liberals’ who want to solve social inequities by giving the government the authority to use taxation to ‘redistribute wealth’ (the ‘Robin Hood’ syndrome of robbing from the rich to give to the poor) – thus still maintaining the value of material things, but giving the government the right to distribute material wealth ‘equitably’ – and the ‘cold hearted’ conservatives and libertarians who insist on the right of private property, and say that government ‘redistribution’ is as much theft as if my neighbor robbed me at gun point in order to use my wealth to pay for his house, car, clothing, food, or medical care. What is needed is a global shift in consciousness to the point that we no longer assign value to things, but see them only as aids for the use of valuable humans. The concept of money, and one-for-one exchange of goods or services, must be put away, replaced by the concept of common ‘ownership’ of all things by humanity in general, with individuals having the right to use whatever they feel they need. Each individual needs to apply the injunction to love one’s neighbor as one loves himself: that is, I devote whatever talents and skills I have to the general service of all, thus benefitting both myself and my ‘neighbor’ – and my ‘neighbor’ does the same.
Here’s where everyone starts exclaiming: “Why that’s abominable communism!” Well, it is no doubt true that it is ‘communism’, since all things are ‘commonly’ owned; but it is (as I picture it) “free market communism” ( 😀 ), as opposed to the ‘central planning committees’ of governmental ‘communism’ with which we are familiar. ‘Governmental communism’ is not truly ‘common ownership’ at all, because it is the government which owns everything, and distributes it according to the governing person’s (or committee’s) whims – which just results in the rulers possessing whatever they want, and everybody else getting the ‘leftovers’ as the rulers see fit. In my view of things, all goods and services would be distributed by the producers, probably on a first come, first served basis.
Such a changeover to ‘free market communism’ can only come about by means of a global ‘bottom up’ change in consciousness, however. Individuals such as me need to promulgate the idea, spreading it from person to person like a flame being transferred from one candle to another, until the idea catches on generally in the global population. Unless and until the idea catches on in this way, it will never succeed. We have learned, I hope, that such ideas can’t successfully be forced ‘top down’ by governing authorities and compulsory ‘reeducation camps’. If and when the idea catches on, better minds than mine will no doubt be able to work out the details of its implementation.
Just think a little bit about the advantages of a world without money, though. There would be no taxation, and therefore no IRS. Congress would not be devoting most of its time to debating on how the tax dollars should be spent, or ways to ‘borrow’ money to pay for its programs. There would be no national debt! That parody of ‘The Golden Rule’ (“he who owns the gold rules”) would no longer be true. There would be no tax accountants, and no agencies like H&R Block to help us figure out our taxes. Banks, loan agencies, and insurance companies would be no more. There would be no such thing as investing in the stock market, and the fear of stock market collapse. No bankruptcies and repossessions. Scientific and technological research and development would no longer be dependent on finding investors (usually, these days, financed by government endowments). No oil cartels virtually controlling the global economy. Is that Utopian? Yes, it is. Is it impossible? I don’t think so, though it is certainly not workable at present. I expect the best economic system actually available right now is free market capitalism, even though it definitely does have its problems. For the present we’ll just have to take the bad with the good. I guess we’ll just have to put up with the continued fighting over Universal Health Care Coverage, unless or until a Universal shift in conceptions about what is valuable occurs; but I can always hope for a better world! 🙂